Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER LXIX.: Dalrymple's Memoirs: Memoirs of King James II. - Letters of David Hume to William Strahan
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LETTER LXIX.: Dalrymple's Memoirs: Memoirs of King James II. - David Hume, Letters of David Hume to William Strahan 
Letters of David Hume to William Strahan, ed. G. Birkbeck Hill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888).
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Dalrymple's Memoirs: Memoirs of King James II.
20 of March, 1773.
I have read twice over all Sir John Dalrymple's new Publication1 , which contains many curious Papers2 ; but it gives me great Satisfaction to find, that there is not one single Mistake in my History, either great or small, which it gives me occasion to correct. I could only wish to have an Opportunity of adding one Note in order to correct a mistake into which Sir John is very anxious to lead his Readers, as if the French Intrigues had had a sensible Influence in the Determinations of the English Parliament3 : And I believe it is not too late even yet to annex it. I remember Mr. Millar added a similar Note to the last Octavo Edition drawn from K. James's Memoirs4 ; and it was inserted in more than the half of the Copies. I have sent you the Note, which I beg may be printed on a Leaf apart, and annexd to all the Copies afterwards disposd of, and even sent to all the Booksellers that have purchasd any considerable Numbers, as well as joind to my own Copies.
I hear you have given Sir John 2000 pounds for the Property of this Volume, which I scarcely believe5 . The Book is curious, but far from being agreeable Reading; and the Sale will probably be all at first. I again repeat my Entreaties that this Note may be annexd.
I am Dear Sir Very sincerely Yours
[William Strahan to David Hume1 ]
Note 1. This letter, though written a day later than Strahan's answer to Hume's letter of the 15th, had not, of course, been received by Strahan when he wrote. I therefore give it before the next letter in the series.
Note 2. This must be the second volume of Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland, for the first was published in the spring of 1771 (ante, p. 174). This work excited great anger among the Whigs. ‘I mentioned,’ records Boswell on April 3 of this year, ‘Sir John Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland, and his discoveries to the prejudice of Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney. JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, everybody who had just notions of government thought them rascals before. It is well that all mankind now see them to be rascals.... This Dalrymple seems to be an honest fellow; for he tells equally what makes against both sides.’ Boswell's Johnson, ii. 210.
Note 3. Hume corrects Dalrymple's mistake in the following words:—‘Sir John Dalrymple has given us from Barillon's dispatches in the Secretary's office at Paris a more particular detail of these intrigues.’ Hume hereupon gives a list of the men with whom they were carried on, and continues:—‘Of these Lord Russel and Lord Hollis alone refused to touch any French money. All the others received presents or bribes from Barillon. But we are to remark that the party view of these men and their well-founded jealousies of the King and Duke engaged them, independently of the money, into the same measures that were suggested to them by the French ambassador. The intrigues of France therefore with the Parliament were a mighty small engine in the political machine.’ History of England, viii. 43.
Note 4. Hume wrote to Dr. Robertson from Paris on Dec. 1, 1763:—‘I have here met with a prodigious historical curiosity, the Memoirs of King James II in fourteen volumes, all wrote with his own hand, and kept in the Scots College. I have looked into it, and have made great discoveries.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 179. ‘These volumes,’ adds Dr. Burton, ‘were lost during the French Revolution. It is said that an attempt was made to convey them to St. Omers; but having to be committed for some time to the care of a Frenchman, his wife became alarmed lest the regal emblems on the binding might expose the family to danger from the Terrorists. She first cut off the binding and buried the manuscripts, but being still haunted by fears she exhumed and burned them.’ Some of these volumes had narrowly escaped destruction a little more than a hundred years earlier, when the London house of the minister of the Grand Duke of Tuscany was sacked in the Revolution of 1688. Macaulay's History of England, ed. 1873, iii. 300. The note which Hume had added to his History is given in vol. viii. p. 4 of the edition of 1802.
Note 5. The same statement had been made, but falsely, about Dalrymple's first volume. See ante, p. 174. Perhaps the price mentioned is that for the whole work. Dalrymple, when pleading on May 10 of this year at the bar of the House of Commons against the Booksellers’ Copyright Bill, said:—‘It had been thrown out against him, that after having sold for £2000 the copy of a book, which had the misfortune universally to displease, although it was universally read, he had taken an active part to destroy the value of the very property which he had so disposed of.’ Parl. Hist. xvii. 1092.
Strahan fortunately kept a copy of his answer to Hume, for the original is not preserved among the Hume Papers in the possession of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.